Accused sexual predator Harvey Weinstein has been indicted on new charges in Los Angeles, just as his New York trial is about to begin, Breitbart News reported.
Prosecutors said Monday that they are charging Weinstein with four new counts stemming from the rape of one woman and the sexual assault of another during a two-day period in 2013. They are also reviewing eight other cases involving allegations of sexual assault against Weinstein and could charge him with additional counts in the future.
“We believe the evidence will show that the defendant used his power and influence to gain access to his victims and then commit violent crimes against them,” L.A. County District Attorney Jackie Lacey said in a statement on Monday. “I want to commend the victims who have come forward and bravely recounted what happened to them. It is my hope that all victims of sexual violence find strength and healing as they move forward.”
Weinstein’s attorneys in New York requested that potential jurors in that case be sequestered, arguing that new charges in other jurisdictions could emerge during the trial and produce bias against their client, but the judge declined to take that step.
A reckoning at last
It has been more than two years since the first allegations of rape and assault against Weinstein were made public. Since then, more than 75 women have come forward to say that Weinstein assaulted or harassed them, often using his power as a movie producer to prey upon them.
Weinstein showed up to court in New York using a walker following recent back surgery. Performer and writer Sarah Ann Masse said that Weinstein “looked cowardly. He wouldn’t look at us. He wouldn’t make eye contact.”
Masse accuses Weinstein of sexually harassing her during a job interview in which he wore only underwear. “This trial is a cultural reckoning regardless of its legal outcome,” she said.
Weinstein’s lead lawyer Donna Rotunno expressed hope that he could receive a fair trial despite the voluminous accusations against him. “In this great country, you are innocent until proven guilty,” she said to reporters.
Trial moves forward in New York
Prosecutor Joan Illuzzi asked for a gag order to bar lawyers from speaking about the case outside the courthouse, alleging that Rotunno was “degrading and humiliating and putting down our witnesses.”
Judge James Burke did not grant such an order, but told Rotunno, “Leave the witnesses alone, OK? Don’t talk about them in any way.”
The defense attorneys for Weinstein also objected when Illuzzi called their client a “predator” during a pretrial hearing. Jury selection for the New York trial is slated to start on Tuesday, in a process that may take upwards of two weeks.
Weinstein has repeatedly said the sexual acts and behaviors that have been the subject of complaints were all consensual in nature. He reportedly began treatment for sexual addiction after the first allegations were lodged, but several sources indicated to the New York Times that he never completed the program.